I rarely comment about camera equipment, other than when I post one of my Lens Reports. But, I sometimes make an exception.
Interestingly, the last time I made an exception was for another Sony product (see The Sony NEX-7 — I’ll take a pass for now)… probably because, when it comes to cameras, Sony is doing a great job pushing the proverbial envelop. The major shortcoming of the NEX-7, for somebody like me with legacy lenses, was the cropped sensor. As I wrote back then:
The first manufacturer, other than Leica, who places a 24 x 36 sensor in a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera can count me in as a customer. I have no doubt that at some point, somebody will do it.
Well, what a difference a year makes. The “buzz” this morning is all about the Sony DSC-RX1.
What’s so special about it?
It boasts a new, cutting edge, full frame 24 MP sensor packed into a body not much larger than a large compact.
Simply put: Wow.
And, it sports a fixed (i.e. not interchangeable) Carl Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2 lens (think: Fuji X100, but with a full frame sensor).
So, they’re getting closer to the “ideal”. The only thing missing is the “interchangeable lens” part of the equation.
However, it cannot be denied that this camera is revolutionary. The image quality-to-camera size ratio bests any current digital camera. As a feat of engineering, the RX1 deserves all the credit it can get. And, if your preferred focal length is 35mm, it may very well be the only camera you’ll ever need. To be honest, it may very well be the only camera most of us will every need.
Already, however, people are complaining about the price, lack of a built-in optical viewfinder, the lack of weather sealing (think: M9 ;)), etc. But for those of us who already own lenses, this camera brings us one significant step closer to the ideal mirrorless camera.
(Did I previously write to ignore Photokina?… oh, well ;)).
And, besides, the incredibly diminutive size of this camera was likely accomplished precisely because the lens is fixed. Moreover, if the X100 is any indication, having an optimized — designed from-the-ground-up — sensor-lens combination seems to ultimately benefit image quality.
So congratulations Sony. I hope you folks sell a lot of these.
My only other requirement (or, at least, preference) of any interchangeable full frame mirrorless camera, which I never stated in my original NEX-7 post, is that it should function like camera and not a computer. As a photographic tool, it must get out of the way and I shouldn’t have to dive into menus to make changes to the shutter speed, aperture, etc. It’s the one thing Leica has understood all along… I hope this continues.
I really don’t know enough about the RX1 to comment about whether it, too, excels in ergonomics. Unfortunately, Sony has a history of building cameras that, well, don’t operate like cameras.
But I do know enough about the RX1 to give Sony full credit for starting a revolution.